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WHO: Medical supplies in Afghanistan will last only one week

The statement comes after the World Health Organization said that 500 tonnes of medical supplies due to be delivered to Afghanistan this week are stuck because of Kabul airport restrictions.

Men wearing protective face masks stand outside a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 30, 2021. (AP)

The World Health Organization (WHO) only has enough supplies in Afghanistan to last for a week after deliveries of medical equipment from abroad were blocked by restrictions at Kabul airport, a senior regional official said.

The UN agency was also concerned the current upheaval in Afghanistan could lead to a spike in Covid-19 infections, with testing for the virus dropping by 77 percent in the past week, officials from the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean office said on Tuesday.

The WHO officials, who spoke during an online briefing, said 95 percent of health facilities in Afghanistan remained operational but that some female staff had not returned to their posts and some female patients had become afraid to leave their homes.

Supplies stuck due to airport restrictions

The World Health Organization said on Monday that 500 tonnes of medical supplies including surgical equipment and childhood pneumonia treatments due to be delivered to Afghanistan this week are stuck because of Kabul airport restrictions.

“They were ready and planned to be delivered to Afghanistan to arrive this week. But now that the airport is closed to commercial flights, we can no longer get them in,” said spokesperson Inas Hamam in an emailed statement to Reuters.

She said the WHO was calling for empty planes to divert to its storage hub in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to collect the supplies on their way to pick up evacuees from the country.

Nearly 18.5 million people – half the population – rely on aid and the humanitarian needs are expected to grow due to drought. But the closure of Kabul airport to commercial flights has held up deliveries, WHO regional emergency director Dr. Richard Brennan told Reuters.

The executive director of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, said on Monday around 10 million children across Afghanistan need humanitarian assistance and that conditions are expected to deteriorate further.

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